Miraa exporters may have to wait longer before shipping the produce to Mogadishu due to requirements set out in the Crops (Miraa) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022.
Traders and farmers have welcomed the reopening of the Somalia market with joy but called on the government to fast-track the issuance of export licences as per the regulations.
Kenya and Somalia revived bilateral relations on Friday evening after President Hassan Mahmud met President Uhuru Kenyatta and agreed that trade and flights between the two countries resume with immediate effect.
However, for the first time, miraa dealers will be required to adhere to the miraa regulations and the Kenya Bureau and Standards Code of Practice.
Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri on Saturday said while they were all set for business, the Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) was yet to clear about 500 exporters.
According to The Crops (Miraa) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, exporters must be registered and licensed by AFA. Exporters are also required to get an export permit for every consignment. Anyone who exports miraa without registration and a license is liable for a sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to Sh5 million
"We have over 500 exporters who have applied for the export licenses but AFA is yet to issue them. We need them urgently because we cannot ship without adhering to the regulations," Mr Munjuri said.
Recently, miraa exporters got a reprieve after Agriculture CS Peter Munya gazetted the amended regulations scrapping an export and import levy of Sh30 and Sh60 per kilo respectively.
The regulations also provide for the registration and licensing of miraa nursery operators, growers’ associations, aggregators, transporters, importers and vendors.
It also regulates the quality of planting materials, production, postharvest handling and transportation.
Transporters are required to use well-ventilated and hygienic vehicles in adherence to food safety standards.
The rules also establish a miraa pricing formula committee, which is tasked with coming up with a pricing method based on supply and demand, cost of production and other factors.
“The regulations pave the way for enforcement of the miraa code of practice especially in regulating how miraa is weighted. The measure of miraa has been used to impoverish farmers. Rogue traders who have been receiving money from exporters and failing to deliver will also be tamed,” Mr Munjuri said.
Anyone licensed to operate as an aggregator must have a field holding facility with potable water, waste disposal area and provide workers with personal protective equipment.
A dealer is required to implement a traceability system where a package shall contain the country code, county code, farm name and location.
Exporters will also wait for the Somalia Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) to issue a NOTAM opening the airspace to Kenyan flights.
Maua Miraa Traders chairman Mohamed Quresh said talks have been ongoing with government authorities on adherence to the regulations.
“We are yet to get the licences but we will have to work with those who get theirs first so that there are no delays in doing business,” Mr Quresh said.
Kenyan miraa farmers and traders have been out of the Somalia market for the last two years after Mogadishu suspended khat imports in March 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.